Generalism is an enemy of wonder because it suppresses uniqueness (Roger Deakin Waterlog: A Swimmer’s Journey Through Britain)
These words sent chills (the good kind) through my body, covering me in goosebumps and sending my brain into high gear this last week. We live in a world of generalism. Advertisements tell us we should look the same and act the same and we expect others to adhere to our unspoken generalism rules. Competitiveness tells us we should look or act like someone else only better.
Yet we are all created unique. Every cell, every hand, foot, eye, face, in fact every part of us is unique and as we grow and age the changes in our bodies are unique too. I gaze at my silvery hair still streaked with a few strands of black. I run my hands over my face, through the wrinkles under my eyes and the smile lines around my mouth. I examine the sunspots on my hands -myriads of them small like stars coming out in the night sky, others brown and threatening growing like storm clouds gathering in the sky. They are part of who I am, part of the uniqueness that God has gifted to my body. I relish them. I am a unique creation filled with awe and wonder.
What if we all focused on this uniqueness in ourselves, in each other and in the created world and looked beyond the power of generalism and competitiveness?
Read Psalm 139:13-18 here quoted from The Voice, and think about your uniqueness. Run your hands over your face. Look at it in the mirror. Admire the uniqueness with which you are created.
For You shaped me, inside and out.
You knitted me together in my mother’s womb long before I took my first breath.
14 I will offer You my grateful heart, for I am Your unique creation, filled with wonder and awe.
You have approached even the smallest details with excellence;
Your works are wonderful;
I carry this knowledge deep within my soul.
15 You see all things; nothing about me was hidden from You
As I took shape in secret,
carefully crafted in the heart of the earth before I was born from its womb.
16 You see all things;
You saw me growing, changing in my mother’s womb;
Every detail of my life was already written in Your book;
You established the length of my life before I ever tasted the sweetnessof it.
17 Your thoughts and plans are treasures to me, O God! I cherish each and every one of them!
How grand in scope! How many in number!
18 If I could count each one of them, they would be more than all the grains of sand on earth. Their number is inconceivable!
Even when I wake up, I am still near to You.
Have you ever taken time to examine a hair under the microscope or held a handful of leaves in your hand and traced the unique shape of each of them? Now imagine expanding that examination through all the creatures of the world – Wow! Wow! and Wow! Talk about awe and wonder. Our uniqueness is inspiring. It takes my breath away. It makes me want to sing and dance with praise to our Creator.
That same uniqueness extends to the world around us. It is not just that each person or creature is unique either but every part of it is unique. There is no sameness, no generalism in God’s world. Not only does Psalm 139:13-18 apply to you, it applies to every person and I think every creature, every plant and every microbe that God has created and together we are hitched to weave together into a unique and awe inspiring tapestry of creation.
When we try to pick out anything by itself we find it hitched to the whole world (John Muir)
This was the second quote that held my attention this week. If we are not careful, focusing on our personal uniqueness can encourage us to become self centered, individualistic and even narcissistic. “God cares for me and for my needs” can exclude those around me and the beautiful world in which God has placed us. But if we see ourselves “hitched to the world world”, intricately woven into a beautiful tapestry that God is creating then our attitude changes. We are created not for ourselves but for each other. We are created not to admire our own individual uniqueness but to recognize its gifts and use them to benefit the whole world.
When I think of this the amazing network of millennial filaments in my garden comes to mind
It’s an information superhighway that speeds up interactions between a large, diverse population of individuals. It allows individuals who may be widely separated to communicate and help each other out….
Evidently 90% of plants are hooked into the “Wood Wide Web”
By linking to the fungal network they (trees) can help out their neighbours by sharing nutrients and information – or sabotage unwelcome plants by spreading toxic chemicals through the network. (Plants Talk to Each Other Using a Network of Fungi)
Sounds like what God intends for us to be doing too. Each unique creature hitched to each other through other unique creatures – to share nutrients and information and sabotage unwelcome enemies. More wows! More happy dances of awe and wonder.
What is Your Response?
Close your eyes and visualize the God delighted to lovingly craft you in your mother’s womb and nurture you as you stumbled through the first hesitant steps of childhood and grappled with the challenges of life. Picture God reaching down and reaching down and rescuing you from your mistakes and brokenness because of that delight. (Gift of Wonder 50)
Remind yourself of how special and unique you are and your journey with God is. Take time to journal about your uniqueness and the sense of God God’s delight in who you are.
Now ask yourself: How am I hitched to the people and the world around me? Write down what comes to you.
Last question: How do you share nutrients and information and sabotage unwelcome enemies? Allow God to unveil new ways that you can reach out and share in our desperately divided world.
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I smile when I notice individuals working so hard to be ‘unique’ but basically, as a group they look alike. Maybe we need a balance of both…knowing we are ‘one of a kind’ yet realizing we are part of a bigger plan. Either way we are ‘special in God’s eyes.
Individually and together we work to heal our world.
(Psalm 139…my favorite)
Yes that is true to a certain extent though the pressure to be the same as everyone else often overshadows our unique expression of who God has created us to be.
Psalm 104:24 What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at your side, made earth overflow with your wonderful creations. (The Message)
I like both the truth of the statement and the sound of the 4 W’s.
An awe inspiring psalm. I particularly love the last line in relationship to my post – “you made earth overflow with your wonderful creations”